As per compromise between the parties, this appeal is dismissed as withdrawn. However, the appellant is given time till the decision of his L.P.A. No. 102 of 1969 pending in the High Court for vacating the premises in question and in case the decision in the L.P.A. is against him, he shall surrender vacant possession of the premises in question within 15 days of the decision. He is allowed time to pay the arrears of rent till date at the rate of Rs. 20/- p.m. as ordered by the trial court by or before 31-12-1975 and future rent by the 15th of each succeeding month.
In case he commits default in complying with the same, he shall be liable to eviction forthwith. The parties are left to bear their own costs.
J. D. Jain.
Rent Control Tribunal
4. L.P.A. No. 102 of 1969 referred to in the statements and orders of the Rent Control Tribunal, Delhi, had arisen in these circumstances. House Nos. 182-185 (New) or VIII/97 (old) in Gali Bandook Wali, Ajmeri Gate, Delhi, was an acquired evacuee property. The property was at first valued at more than Rs. 10,000/- but the respondent appealed against the valuation and got the valuation reduced to less than Rs. 10,000/-. The property thus became allottable, property within the meaning of Displaced Persons' (Compensation & Rehabilitation) Act and the Rules. The petitioner held a verified claim and being an occupant claimant of the property applied on February 15, 1962 for its transfer. He prayed in the alternative that at least the portion occupied by him should be separated from the rest of the property and allotted to him. The Managing Officer, however, on April 11, 1962 entered into an agreement with the respondent for transfer of the property to him. The petitioner filed a revision against the order by which the agreement to transfer had been entered into. The Chief Settlement Commissioner by his ex parte order dated November 16, 1962 set aside the order of transfer in favor of the respondent and ordered that the property should be transferred to the petitioner. He gave cogent reasons for coming to the conclusion that the petitioner was entitled to transfer of the entire property under the relevant rules as he was in occupation of the property and was a claimant. The property was held to be indivisable. In pursuance of this order, a sale deed was executed on June 4, 1963 conveying the property in favor of the petitioner and was also registered on June 5, 1963.
5. In the meanwhile, the respondent applied for setting aside the ex parte order dated November 16, 1962. The Chief Settlement Commissioner by his order dated September 18, 1963 set aside the ex parte order dated November 16, 1962 and directed that the revision petition of the petitioner be heard on merits again. On hearing the revision petition, the Chief Settlement Commissioner noticed that the property had become allottable property by reduction of its valuation from Rs. 11,512/- to Rupees 9,623/-. He further noticed that originally the property was occupied by several allottees including the petitioner and the respondent but dispute regarding transfer of the property was really between the said two persons. The petitioner was displaced person claimant occupant but the respondent was a non-claimant occupant though a displaced person. Contrary to his earlier order the Chief Settlement Commissioner in his order dated October 17, 1963 came to the conclusion that the petitioner was not interested in transfer of the entire property. The petitioner invoked the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution seeking a writ of certiorari to quash the impugned orders dated September 18, 1963 and October 17, 1963. This was C.W.P. 834-D/63. The learned single Judge by the judgment dated September 16, 1969 allowed the writ petition and quashed the impugned orders. The view taken was that the Chief Settlement Commissioner was required to give a finding that when he earlier passed the ex parte order against the respondent the party had not been duly served and that without giving such a finding the Chief Settlement Commissioner had no jurisdiction to revise the view he had earlier expressed. Under Section 27, Displaced Persons (Compensation & Rehabilitation) Act, 1954, the order dated November 16, 1962 had become final and it could not be revised on merits. Furthermore, the learned single Judge noticed that under Rule 30, Displaced Persons (Compensation & Rehabilitation) Rules the petitioner as the claimant occupant was the person to whom the property was to be allotted in preference to a non-claimant occupant like the respondent. The order of November 16, 1962 was held as a correct order in law. L.P.A. No. 102/69 was preferred by the respondent under Clause X, Letters Patent, against the judgment dated September 16, 1969 passed by the learned single Judge. The appeal was dismissed on April 4, 1979 by a Division Bench of this Court.
6. The respondent is sought to be committed for contempt of Court for committing willful breach of an undertaking given by him to the Court. The petitioner's case in the petition is that the alleged contemner had given an undertaking to the Rent Control Tribunal, Delhi on September 1, 1975, and was bound to surrender vacant possession of the premises in dispute within 15 days of the decision dated April 4, 1979 by the Division Bench of this Court dismissing L.P.A. No. 102 of 1969 but the respondent has contumaciously not surrendered possession and thus there is a willful breach of an undertaking given to a Court. A Division Bench of this Court issued show cause notice to the respondent. After considering reply to the show cause notice and hearing parties the Division Bench expressed prima facie view that the respondent is guilty of civil contempt. Rule was issued against the respondent to show cause why he should not be held guilty of contempt of Court of Rent Control Tribunal, Delhi inasmuch as he had failed to vacate the premises in dispute despite his statement to the Rent Control Tribunal made on September 1, 1975 that he would vacate the premises in dispute within 15 days of the judgment of the High Court in case L.P.A. 102/1969 is decided against him. Admittedly, the appeal has been decided on April 4, 1979 against the respondent. The parties were given opportunity to file further affidavits and list of witnesses. The Division Bench remitted the case to the Joint Registrar (J) to record the evidence on the following issues :-
'(1) Whether the respondent Ram Rakha undertook to deliver possession of the premises in question to the petitioner within fifteen days of the decision of L.P.A. No. 102/69 by this Court
'(2) Whether the said L.P.A. has been decided and, if so, on what date
'(3) Whether Ram Rakha is in collusion with one Budh Ram who is purported to have filed objections in the executing court on November 21, 1979 invoking S. 25, Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958
'(4) Who is in actual physical possession of the premises in question ?'
The statements including cross-examination of the witness of the petitioner besides the petitioner himself have been recorded. Counsel for the respondent stated on September, 1, 1981 'that he does not want to produce any evidence in the matter'. The case was placed before the Division Bench for arguments. By reference order dated December 11, 1981 the entire matter in the petition has been referred to the larger Bench.
7. Before the Division Bench, Shri G. S. Vohra, the learned counsel for the respondent had raised a question that the Rent Control Tribunal is not a Court within the meaning of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 (hereinafter referred to as the Act). The Act does not define the word 'Court', but it is well settled that the word 'Court' used in the Act is not confined to ordinary Civil. Criminal and Revenue Courts. A Court is charged with a duty to decide disputes in judicial manner, and it declares the rights of parties in a definite judgment which has finality and authoritativeness. To decide in a judicial manner involves that the parties are entitled as a matter of right to be heard in support of their respective claims/stand and to adduce evidence in proof of it. The evidence is and may be legally taken on oath. The obligation to give a decision is on a consideration of the evidence adduced and submissions made and in accordance with law. When a question arises as to whether an authority created by a statute is a Court as distinguished from a quasi-judicial Tribunal, what has to be decided is, whether having regard to the provisions of the statute it possesses all the attributes of a Court. A question was referred to a Full Bench of this Court for decision as to whether the Rent Control Tribunal while dealing with an application under sub-section (4) of Section 38 Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 is a 'Court' for purposes of Clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 195 Cr.P.C. and a 'Civil Court.' within the meaning of Section 476 of the said Code, in Jaitendra Kumar Agrawal v. Lakshmi Kant, 2nd : 1974RLR167 . The Full Bench after examination of the provision of the statute held that the Tribunal is a 'Court' within the meaning of Section 195(1)(b) of the said Code. The examination of the provisions of the Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, also leads one to the same conclusion. Appeals to the Rent Control Tribunal lie under section 38. Sub-section (3) thereof vests the Tribunal with 'all the powers vested in the Court under the Code of Civil Procedure when hearing an appeal.' It also gives powers to the Tribunal to transfer any proceedings pending before any Controller to another Controller. Under Section 50 the jurisdiction of Civil Courts is barred in respect of certain matters specified therein. Section 56 confers powers on the Central Government to frame rules to carry out the purpose of the said Act. Rule 23 provides that in deciding any question relating to the procedure not specially provided by the said Act and the Rules, the Tribunal shall, as far as possible, be guided by the provisions contained in the Code of Civil Procedure. The Tribunals, determine on the basis of the evidence and arguments disputes between two or more parties about their respective legal rights, duties, powers, liabilities, privileges and immunities. They render definite and binding judgments. They exercise the judicial power of the State and the powers, which if the Tribunals were not constituted, would be exercisable by the ordinary Courts of the land constituted under the Constitution. The Tribunals have not only the trappings of a Court but have been given the same powers as are given to the ordinary Courts of the land by the Code of Civil Procedure. The conclusion, in our opinion, must, thereforee, be that they are Courts subordinate to the High Court within Section 11 of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971. (See State v. Ram Dass T. Chugani, : AIR1969Delhi319 . The counsel for the respondent in our view, rightly gave up the objection after a day of arguments.
8. The first question that arises for consideration is whether there is any undertaking of the respondent to the Court in the proceedings of September 1, 1975. The submission of the counsel for the respondent is that the parties negotiated a settlement outside Court and came to the Court on September 1, 1975 when they reported that they have compromised and this is borne from the first order of the Court. It was reported to the Court says the counsel, that the parties were agreeing to certain terms and the same may be recorded. The respondent promised to surrender vacant possession of the premises in dispute within 15 days of the judgment of the High Court in case L.P.A. No. 102 of 1969 was decided against the respondent and this agreement he made was not with the Court but with the petitioner. There is no user of the word 'undertaking' in the statement of the respondent and thus premise means a solemn premise to someone else and not to the Court. It does not become anything more than a promise when the Court passes an order in terms thereof. The counsel contends that the compromise eviction order is no more than an agreement of the parties under the provisions of O. 23 R. 3, Civil P.C. with the sanction of the Court super-added. The Court had no part to play but only to record the agreement between the parties as the appeal was being withdrawn. It has no greater sanctity than an agreement simpliciter. Reliance is heavily placed on a decision of the Calcutta High Court in Nisha Kanto v. Smt. Saroj Bashini : AIR1948Cal294 . Harries, C.J. observed that the promise or undertaking in each case should be interpreted on its particular facts and upon the precise words used in the compromise and held that in the particular circumstance of the case the undertaking given by the tenant was an undertaking to the landlord and not an undertaking to the Court. Reliance is next placed on Badri Das v. Lobhu Mal. in which a learned single Judge of the Punjab High Court in a very short judgment observed that if there was a compromise or an, undertaking between the parties previously and the Court merely accepted such compromise, then a breach of such undertaking would not be contempt of Court. Reliance is also placed on Amar Chand Kapoor v. Roshan Lal. 1967 All LJ 442 wherein on a construction of the language used in the statement learned single Judge of the Allahabad High Court came to the conclusion that it only contained a solemn promise to vacate the premises in question within five months and did not contain any undertaking by him to that effect to the Court.
9. Reliance is next placed on B.B. Light Rly. Co. v. State of Bihar, : AIR1951Pat231 . We may express here that in that case, it had not been seriously contested as noticed in the judgment itself, that all that the consent order does is to recite the agreement arrived at between the parties and to vacate the ad interim injunction which had been issued by the Court that in other words, the rule issued by the Court was discharged and that the agreement recorded by the Court is at most a contract between the parties. This does not at all advance the case of the respondents. Reliance is lastly placed in Babu Ram v. Sudhir Bhasin. : 1979CriLJ952 . On a perusal of the order extracted it was found that there was no direction to hand over possession to the receiver although certain directions were given by the Court to the receiver for filing quarterly reports, etc. There was neither any written undertaking nor was any such undertaking impliedly or expressly incorporated in the order. Thus the question of breach of such an undertaking did not arise.
10. In our view, each case must be decided on the peculiar facts and circumstances in the backdrop of the earlier proceedings and the Court must construe the language employed to ascertain the true meaning. Let us analyze the position in the case. The petitioner first sought and obtained on October 27, 1970 permission to institute a petition for obtaining an order for the eviction of the respondent from the Competent Authority (Slums). He then filed a petition under section 14(1) (a), (e) and (j), Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 and obtained on April 12, 1974 an order for the eviction of the respondent from the Addl. Rent Controller, Delhi. The respondent preferred an appeal against the order of the Addl. Rent Controller and was pending on September 1, 1975. The parties did not enter into any written agreement outside the Court. The compromise came into existence in the presence of the Court. The petitioner stated on oath in these proceedings that the respondent gave an undertaking before the Tribunal on September 1, 1975 that he would surrender the possession within 15 days of the decision of L.P.A. In the cross-examination he persisted that the undertaking was given in the Court and by undertaking he meant that the respondent had agreed to vacate the premises within 15 days before the Court from the date of the decision of the L.P.A. The respondent has not taken courage to enter the witness-box. The provisions of O. 23 R. 3 C.P.C. no doubt apply to the proceedings before the Tribunal, but the Tribunal has to be satisfied on consideration of the terms of the compromise and, if necessary, by considering them in the context of the pleadings and other material in the case that the agreement is lawful. It is well settled that where the Rent Control and Restriction Acts are in operation, a landlord cannot obtain eviction of the tenant unless he can satisfy the requirements of the provisions of these Acts. It is also well settled that if the Court does not find the permissible grounds for eviction disclosed by the pleading and other material on the record no consent or compromise will give jurisdiction to the Court to pass a valid decree for eviction. In this view of the law, when the Tribunal is bound to decide judicially any agreement, the recording of the promise and the passing of the decree cannot be said as nothing more than an agreement of the parties with the sanction of the Court superadded. The Court was an active participant to the terms of the compromise and its validity in a case for eviction on permissible grounds and material.
11. The statement of the respondent embraces two distinct grounds on which the eviction order was made. In the order under appeal the Addl. Rent Controller directed the respondent to clear the entire arrears of rent for the period from February 1, 1967 till the date of the order at the rate of Rs. 8/- per month within one month from that date. In case the respondent cleared the entire arrears of rent within the time allotted to him, the petition on the ground of non-payment of rent would stand dismissed. The respondent agreed on September 1, 1975 in the second part of his statement to comply with the order but was given time up to December 31, 1975 to pay the arrears and future rent month by month. It is then recorded that in case of failure to pay rent as agreed the respondent shall be liable to eviction forthwith. In the similar language is the order of the Tribunal that in case the respondent commits default in complying with the same, he shall be liable to eviction forthwith. The respondent has committed breach in the payment of rent. The remedy for this breach is provided in the statement of the respondent and the order of the Tribunal. It is forthwith eviction. The remedy of the petitioner is not for drawing up proceedings for contempt of Court against the respondent and he has rightly not sought it on this ground. The petitioner's remedy which he has already sought, is to approach the Addl. Rent Controller for directing a warrant for delivery of possession.
12. The respondent made a statement to withdraw his appeal. It is unconditional. The withdrawal of the appeal is not linked with the grant of time. It is only in the next sentence of the first part of his statement that the respondent seeks time to vacate the premises in dispute and he says 'I will surrender vacant possession of the premises in question within 15 days of the judgment of the High Court'. It is a formal promise or pledge to surrender vacant possession. The respondent makes this representation in Court to obtain a benefit for himself. The words used are not 'to hand over' vacant possession winch may suggest an agreement with the petitioner. There is a clear and express solemn promise given by the respondent to the Court when he offers to surrender vacant possession. The order for eviction on the ground of bona fide personal necessity of the petitioner had become executable on the dismissal of the appeal. An order for the recovery of possession of any premises is not executable by virtue of the provision of sub-section (7) of S. 14, Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958, before the expiration of a period of six months from the date of the order. The statutory power is to grant six months time. A tenant is not entitled as of right under section 14(7) at every stage of appeal or second appeal further time if eviction order is made under section 14(1)(e) and he has been allowed time once by the Rent Controller. It could not be the intention of the Legislature that the tenant is to get six months to vacate the premises, each counted from the eviction order of the Rent Controller, the date of dismissal of the appeal of the tenant and the date of the order of the second appeal. The court is put to inaction by the respondent's statement of voluntary surrendering possession within 15 days of the dismissal of the L.P.A. The statement of the respondent is adopted as a part of the order of the Tribunal. The phraseology of the order of the Tribunal clearly brings out the intention. The promise by the respondent to the court is incorporated and converted into Tribunal's order when it directs that the respondent shall surrender vacant possession of the premises in question within 15 days of the dismissal of the L.P.A.
12-A. The petitioner had made necessary averments and had also established his ownership to support a petition for eviction under section (1)(e). The sale deed was executed on June 4, 1963, conveying the property in dispute in favor of the petitioner and was also registered on June 5, 1963. The respondent's challenge to the title of the petitioner was defeated by the grant of C.W.P. No. 834/D of 1963, by a learned single Judge by the judgment dated September 16, 1969. L.P.A. 102/69 against this order was admitted on November 11, 1969. The respondent did not pray for or obtain any stay of the operation of the order under Letters Patent Appeal. The order of eviction was final end subsisting and became executable on the dismissal of the appeal of the respondent by the Rent Control Tribunal. The respondent by making the promise of surrender of vacant possession of the premises in dispute wanted to derive a considerable benefit to the detriment of the petitioner. The respondent wanted time till 15 days after the dismissal of his L.P.A. No. 102/69. The petitioner states that time be given to the respondent for vacating the premises in question. This agreement he is not making with the respondent. The petitioner prays to the court to give time to the respondent in consideration of solemn promise of surrender of vacant possession. It is in context of these peculiar facts that the statement of the respondent made in court on September 1, 1975 is to be construed. An assurance to or agreement with the petitioner without providing for consequences of the breach looses all significance and thus a compromise inter se could never have been intended by the parties. A solemn promise to the Court need not provide in the statements or in the orders of the court the consequences of breach as the law takes its care. An undertaking can be enforced by proper committal proceedings. A cumulative effect of all these particular facts and the terms of the statements persuade us to hold that the respondent did give an undertaking to the Court.
13. The fact that the undertaking does not expressly mention that it was given to the court is a matter of no consequences as on the interpretation of the terms of the statement and a long practice understood by the counsel and Judges of this court and the courts subordinate to it, it is clear to us that the undertaking must have been given to the court. An undertaking recorded in court has come to acquire a technical meaning that it is always an undertaking to the court stay order or injunctions prayed are not granted when undertakings are given in court by the parties or their counsel. The Courts in Delhi seldom use the words 'undertakings to the court' when recording the undertaking of the parties or their counsel. In Raj Rani v. Ram Lal 1972 R.L.N. 10, the tenants appeal was dismissed and at the instance of their counsel the tenants were allowed two months time to vacate and hand over vacant possession. It was not even argued or suggested in that case that there was not undertaking to the court in the absence of words to that effect. In 'Saleem-ud-din v. Sharifuddin.' : AIR1980Delhi39 , the appellant in the second appeal from the order of eviction pending in the High Court had undertaken to vacate and deliver vacant possession of the premises in dispute to the landlords against their receipt on or before December 31, 1977 and this undertaking was accepted. The question arose whether it was an undertaking to the court. On a construction of the undertaking, it was held that the appellant gave a solemn undertaking to the court to vacate the premises by December 31, 1977. An undertaking entered into with or given to the court by a party has exactly the same force as an order made by the court, and accordingly breach of an undertaking amounts to a contempt in the same way as a breach of an injunction.
14. A similar practice is noticed by the Bombay High Court in Bajranglal Gangadhar v. Kapurchand Ltd., : AIR1950Bom336 :-
'........... The clause does not state to whom the undertaking is given and it may be that it would be possible to hold that as the parties were settling the dispute between themselves, the undertaking was given by one party to the other; or at the highest the only thing that could be urged would be that the expression is ambiguous, and in a contempt matter, unless the Court is clearly satisfied that the undertaking was given to the Court, the Court would not proceed to commit the person in default to jail. But in our opinion, the expression 'undertake' has come to acquire through long practice, a technical meaning. In all orders and decrees of the Court, whenever the expression 'a party undertakes' has been used, it has always borne the meaning that the undertaking has been to the Court. The Advocate General has also referred us to the forms and orders that appear in 'Seton on Decrees and Orders,' and in those forms the expression used has always been 'a party undertake' and never 'a party undertakes to the Court.' thereforee, in English Courts as well, the expression 'a party undertakes' when used in decrees or orders has come to acquire the same technical meaning. What is more, it has been held by Bhagwati, J. - an opinion with which I entirely agree that it has been the longstanding practice on the original side that, whenever counsel wishes to give an undertaking to the Court, he never expressly uses the words 'to the court' but merely states that he undertakes on behalf of his client, and that undertaking is always understood to be an undertaking to the Court which could be enforced by committal proceedings ..........'
The contra view taken by Harries, C.J. of the Calcutta High Court in Nisha Kanto's case (1948) 49 Cri LJ 567 (supra) relied upon by the counsel for the respondent was dissented from. It was expressed that if his Lordship had considered that the expression 'undertaking' had come to acquire a technical meaning and if he had considered that aspect of the case, he would not have come to the conclusion that the only way to construe the expression 'undertaking' was to give it its plain natural meaning. Three judgments of the Calcutta High Court, all delivered by Single Judges, undoubtedly, were noticed which have taken the view that an 'undertaking' means an 'undertaking to the court.' Another Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court in 'Chhaya Devi v. Lahoriram' (1963) 67 CWN 819 considered the aforesaid two cases and construing the decree in that case held that the undertaking given by the opposite party was an undertaking given to court and the opposite party always understood the undertaking as one given to the court. The decree in terms of the settlement had only recorded that the opposite party 'gives an undertaking to the effect that he would quit.'
15. In 'Ayissa Bibi Amma v. Aboobacker.' 1972 KLT 869, the contempt proceedings were started on the allegation that the counsel gave an undertaking to the court and there was willful breach. The statement was :-
'Without any demur or objection the petitioner the petitioner (the respondent before us) will unconditionally surrender the building to the respondents in this C.M.P. (the petitioners before us) on or before May 5th, 1971. I have necessary instructions from my party to make this submission ............................'
After the counsel for the opposite party agreed, the learned Judge passed the order that 'time is granted up to 5th May 1971'. The contention of the counsel in the contempt proceedings was that the undertaking given by the counsel was not an undertaking to the court but was only an undertaking to the other side, so that committing breach of such an undertaking was not contempt of court. A Division Bench of Kerala High Court noticed a large number of decisions including those cited before us and deduced main principles. Applying those principles, their Lordships came to the conclusion that the undertaking given by the counsel of the respondent was in fact an undertaking given to the court. It was observed :-
'......... The respondent filed a petition for extension of time; and when the matter was being heard, during the discussion at the bar, the respondent agreed that he would unconditionally surrender the premises on or before a particular day and the petitioners also agreed to give time till that day. This agreement was in the presence of the Court; and it was not an agreement come to by the parties outside court and reported to the court. It is thereforee not correct to treat the undertaking given by the respondent before the Court only as an undertaking given to the other side .............'
16. In 'Govind Kaur v. Hardev' 1982 1 RCR 323, a question arose before a Division Bench of the Rajasthan High Court whether the tenant was guilty of the contempt of Court. On March 13, 1980 when the judgment was pronounced the counsel for the tenant made a request to court for grant of time to vacate shop No. 6. She was granted time of two months. She undertook to deliver vacant possession of shop No. 6 to the landlord on or before the expiry of two months from that day. It was held :-
'......... This cannot be said to be an arrangement by way of agreement between the parties for vacating shop No. 6. It is an undertaking to the court. An undertaking is a promise, given to the Court by a party to a proceeding to do or not to do particular thing, which is enforceable as an injunction because when the court accepts an undertaking given by a party. Its order amounts in substance to an injunction. An undertaking given, to the court by a person or a Corporation in pending proceedings on the faith of which the court sanctions a particular course of action or inaction, has the same force as an injunction made by the court and breach of the undertaking is misconduct amounting to contempt. An 'undertaking given to the court' should be distinguished from a consent order, or what is known as an order passed on a compromise petition filed by the parties in a civil proceeding. A consent order is a mere agreement between the parties even though the court might record it and append its order thereto and in case of the failure of a party to comply with the terms of a consent order the injured party cannot apply for committing the defaulter for contempt, his remedy is by way of specific performance or injunction. However, when a party secures an order from the court on giving an undertaking to the court that he will take a particular course of action or inaction, such undertaking itself operates as an injunction made by the Court because the court has made its order on the faith of the undertaking, e.g., stay of execution of the decree or order.'
17. Their Lordships then expressed that they are definitely of the opinion that it was an unconditional and unqualified undertaking to the court even though the words to that effect were not used either in the statement or order of the court.
18. Thus the expression a party 'undertakes' or 'gives a solemn promise' used in the statements of the parties or their counsel or in the orders and decrees of the Court, unless the context otherwise suggests, means an implied undertaking to the court. The undertaking is always understood to be an undertaking to the court, which undertaking could be enforced by committal proceedings.
19. It is unnecessary to refer to the evidence tendered by the petitioner on the record of these proceedings to draw an inference of fact that the respondent has willfully not surrendered the vacant possess on of the premises in dispute to he petitioner within the stipulated time. The counsel for the respondent has not addressed us that the breach is not willful. Civil contempt under S. 2(b), Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 has been defined to mean willful disobetente to any judgment decree, direction, order, writ or other process of a Court or willful breach of an undertaking given to a Court. The respondent gave an undertaking to the Court and there is a willful breach of that undertaking. The respondent is thus guilty of the contempt of court. No doubt, the court should exercise the power to commit for contempt only sparingly, but should not fail to guard it zealously. The Court should not allow a party to treat the court lightly or to commit breach of an undertaking given to the Court with impunity. It was ruled in 'Advocate General Bihar v. M. P. Khair Industries, : 1980CriLJ684 .
'............ The public have an interest, an abiding and a real interest, and a vital stake in the effective and orderly administration of justice, because, unless justice is so administered, there is the peril of all rights and liberties perishing. The Court has the duty of projecting the interest of the public in the due administration of justice and, so it is entrusted with the power to commit for contempt of court, not in order to protect the dignity of the court against insult or injury as the expression 'Contempt of Court' may seem to suggest, but, to protect and to vindicate the right of the public that the administration of justice shall not be prevented, prejudiced, obstructed or interfered with. 'It is a mode of vindicating the majesty of law, on its active manifestation against obstruction and outrage.' Per Frankfurter, J. in Offutt v. U.S. (1954) 348 US 11.
'The law should not be seen to sit by limply, while those who defy it go free, and those who seek its protection lose hope'. Per Judge, Curtis-Raleigh quoted in Jennison v. Baker (1972) 1 All ER 997.'
20. A disturbing feature of the case is that the respondent expressed no sign of regret not to mention an apology or even a semblance of apology of any kind at any stage of the case. In the opening the counsel for the petitioner suggested that he would withdraw the petition if the respondent even now honours his solemn promise of surrendering vacant possession of the property in dispute, After conclusion of the arguments, we again asked the counsel for the respondent and gave a day's time if the respondent was willing to surrender vacant possession. All along the respondent has taken the position that there had been no undertaking to the Court, and he is not going to surrender vacant possession. It is clear from sub-section (3) of S. 12, Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, that if in the opinion of the Court the sentence of fine will not meet the ends of justice and that a sentence of imprisonment is necessary, then, the Court may direct detaining the contemner in civil prison for a period not exceeding six months.
21. We hold that the respondent is guilty of contempt of Court for willful breach of the undertaking to surrender vacant possession of the premises in dispute within 15 days of the dismissal of L.P.A. 102/69. We direct the contemner to pay a fine of Rs. 2,000/- Fine alone does not meet the ends of justice. We further direct that in the event of the contemner carrying out his aforesaid undertaking and surrendering vacant possession of the premises in dispute and putting the petitioner in possession thereof within 15 days from today, there would be no further punishment. In the event of the contemner failing to do so, we direct that the contemner failing (impression blurred) in a civil prison for one month for contempt of Court.
22. Order accordingly.